Dieter Rams, SK 4 Phonograph and Radio, 1956.
This November, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present an exhibition surveying the career of one of the most influential industrial designers living today: Dieter Rams. Principled Design presents the prolific body of work he has produced—from radios, clocks, and cameras to kitchen appliances and furniture—and examines the longevity and impact of his design philosophies. From his earliest years designing for German manufacturer Braun to his ongoing projects with Vitsœ, the furniture company he co-founded in 1959, the exhibition celebrates his distinctive approach to integrating form, material, and color to create designs that are both functional and beautiful. Principled Design is the most comprehensive museum survey of Rams’s work to appear at an East Coast museum in three decades.
Known for his “less is better” approach, Rams redefined the criteria for successful mass-produced design in his “Ten Principles of Good Design." These tenets, which espouse concepts such as simplicity and sustainability, appear as overarching guidelines throughout the exhibition, which begins with a section that situates Rams in the milieu of postwar West Germany. Individual works document the origins of Rams’s collaborations with Braun and his role in building the company’s connection with the Ulm School of Design, which was founded in 1953 to continue the Bauhaus mission of uniting art and industry.
(Copyright Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main. Photo courtesy of Sebastian Struch.)